Alicia wanted me to do the guest blog spot, so you know it’s not just her having all the fun!
Last week I went on our egg roll run with a couple of the kids, and we saw some signs in the ditch but couldn’t make out what they said. We kept driving and saw a couple more, then finally saw a large colored circle and a sign next to it that said “Jupiter” and realized the school had put the solar system along the road!
We made it to Walnut Grove and came back to pick up the rest of the kids, then went back out and took pictures of the signs and marked the mileage. We were able to determine that the scale was 1:100,000,000 (1 mile to 100 million miles).
Here’s the signs:
First, the sun (located in the city limits).
Second, Mercury (.3 miles away, just barely past town)
Then Venus at .5 miles
Earth at .8 miles
Mars, 1.3 miles away
The asteroid belt, 2.5 miles
Jupiter, 4.9 miles
And Saturn at 8.7 miles.
That was all we saw before we hit Walnut Grove, but we didn’t think they would have stopped so we kept driving along Co. Rd 5 north of town. Sure enough, 3 miles north of town we found Uranus (16.8 miles from the “Sun”)
And then, a total of 27.3 miles from our starting point, Neptune.
We decided against seeing if they had Pluto out. Could have been a LONG drive, and besides, it’s been demoted so I saved some gas.
It was a lot of fun doing this. We decided we were the “Magic School Bus touring the Solar System”, and that means I was Miss Frizzle. Not one of my better roles. Alex was Lizzie, Jack was Ralphie, Toria was Keisha, and Anna was Dorothy Ann. Many bad jokes ensued.
We spent a lot of time talking about the solar system and the distances involved. They all learned the saying “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Noodles”, and by the time we got home Jack knew the planets and where they were by using that.
We also discussed how far away the sun was. Since sunlight takes about 8 minutes to reach the Earth, we used that as a starting point. That means it takes 273 minutes to reach Neptune, or about 11 hours 20 minutes. We also calculated that if you were to walk to the Sun from Earth, figuring 1 mile every half hour it would take you 5,308 years. More if you stopped for a bathroom break.
The planets were to scale, so we talked about how Jupiter could hold 1,000 Earths and that the Great Red Spot alone would hold two! We calculated the size of the sun based on that scale (46 feet), so knowing that the Mercury was the size of a golf ball while Earth was the size of a softball REALLY put it in perspective. We also discussed how the asteroid belt may have been a planet, which planets had rings, and any other factoids I could come up with.
I think they had a great time. We had coloring pages for the planets and they did them as we passed the signs. When we got home I found this page which shows it in a different way.
It was a great learning experience, and I hope it’s one you all have a chance to see some day!
(Note from Alicia: see why Daryl handles the space lessons? Brilliant AND fun! What a man! Thanks Sweetie!)